Discipline & Grievance

All workplaces should have clear disciplinary and grievance procedures so that employees know what is expected of them, they are all subject to the same rules and regulations, and they also know how to raise complaints themselves if it becomes necessary.

These policies are normally contained within the staff or employee handbook. This is something every employer should have.


If an employer has an issue with an employee’s conduct, performance or capability, a clear disciplinary policy will allow the employer to address the situation quickly and effectively. Initially, a situation can be dealt with informally whereby an employer may discuss the problem with the employee when the issue first arises. An employer taking this step should ensure they note everything that happens, including dates, times, places and who is involved.

If a more a more formal approach is required, an employer should communicate to their employee in writing to confirm what the issues are, how the employee will be expected to rectify them and what action the employer proposes to take. No formal action should be taken against an employee before the situation has been properly investigated, and that investigation documented.

If the issue progresses to a disciplinary hearing, an employee is legally entitled to be accompanied to the hearing by either a colleague or a union representative. An employer is not under any obligation to allow any other category of companion, however should an employee make a request an employer may use their discretion to allow another person to attend. Detailed minutes should be taken throughout the meeting so that everything is documented, with a copy of those minutes being provided to the employee at the conclusion of the meeting.

The outcome of a formal disciplinary hearing should be communicated to an employee in writing along with confirmation of any disciplinary sanction that is being applied. An employee subject to a disciplinary sanction can, if they so wish, appeal against any decision the employer takes. Any appeal should be handled, wherever possible, by a different person within the organisation who had no role in the original disciplinary process, to ensure there is no bias as far as possible.


A grievance is a complaint made by an employee to an employer, and can be about anything such as concerns about an employer’s working practices to a complaint about another worker, manager, a customer or a supplier. The most common grievances are to do with changes to employment contracts, bullying, restructuring, health and safety issues and discrimination.

If an employee has a grievance, it is important that an employer has a clear grievance procedure set out in an employee handbook so that the employee may refer to this and follow the guidelines.

It may be possible to resolve the issue through the employee’s manager holding informal discussions with the employee. If this is not going to be possible, the employee should put their complaint in writing.

Great care should be taken to properly investigate and consider grievances, and the whole process should be carefully documented by the employer.

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How we can help

Our specialist employment solicitors have a wealth of knowledge and experience in supporting employers with disciplinary and grievance procedures and will give you all the advice and guidance you need. From drafting the appropriate policies, to supporting and advising through any particular procedure, we can also draft any letters you wish to send to your employees, allowing you more time to concentrate on your business.

We can also help with training your managers and key personnel on how to implement and apply these policies if necessary.

If you would like more information or just want a confidential, no obligation chat about your options, contact our highly experienced team today.

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